An image showing someone is writing

How to select the relevant case notes for OET letter writing? The audience awareness is the key

What is audience awareness and why is it important to you?

One of the criteria of the new version of the OET writing assessment is the content, according to the OET center,

“The content criterion examines a number of aspects of the content:
All key information is included
Information is accurately represented
Audience awareness is key here. The writing needs to be appropriate to the reader (and their knowledge of the case) and what they
need to know to continue care.”

WRITING Assessment Criteria and Level Descriptors, Public version

So, in the test, your letter should include the information that is relevant to the person you are writing to (the audience). You should know what the audience knows about the patient and the case and what they should know to continue the care of the patient. This is called audience awareness.

How audience awareness can help you to understand which information is relevant and which is not?

Before you start writing the letter, you should understand who is your recipient and what is the reason for your letter to them (the purpose).

The main factors you should find from your question booklet are,

  1. Who are you?
  2. Who is your patient and what happened to them?
  3. To whom you are writing to?
  4. Why you are writing to them?

Who are you?

Knowing who you are will help you understand the setting (For example, medical ward, diabetic care unit, etc.) and the urgency of the situation, etc. You can usually find this information at the beginning of the case notes.

Image of OET writing question booklet
An OET writing booklet

Who is your patient?

Information about your patient, like their age, the current and past medical condition, gives insight into the purpose and the urgency of the situation.

The purpose of the letter?

To find the main purpose of the letter, imagine that you are forced to write this letter to the recipient. What is that reason? that is the purpose of the letter.

Every letter has a purpose. The focus of your letter should be the purpose. The information you choose to include from the case notes should be relevant to the purpose.


The information should be relevant to the reader (the audience) too.

Audience awarness

An infograph about the audience awarness

Who is your recipient?

It is very important to know the recipient of the letter. You can find this information in the task section of the letter and sometimes inside the case notes too.

Find out,

What do they know about the patient and the case?
What do they need to know to continue the care?

Your information should be appropriate to their knowledge of the case

The address of the recipient

Compare it with the address of the patient and the hospital (Are they the same? do they know your patient already? Should you include the social and the medical history, etc?)

The profession of the recipient

What is their level of knowledge about the case?

Most importantly, ask yourself, what does the reader need to know?

What is the main purpose of the letter?

The information I selected is appropriate to the reader and the case?

What other information do they need to know to continue the care of the patient (like future appointments and any special instructions)?

The writing process

Before starting writing, I usually suggest my students stop doing everything else and take a minute to think about the factors we considered above.

Imagine the situation you are writing this letter: The patient, their situation and the purpose; the recipient, their knowledge on the case, and the patient. The reason for writing the letter and the other information your recipient should know.

Before you write the letter you should be clear about all these factors because, if you do, your letter will have clarity and coherence.

Also, while transferring the information (Please do not copy the information from the case notes, write it in your own words) be sure to be accurate. The inaccuracies you may make, about the name of the patient, the gender, diagnosis, and the other terminologies, are bad for your score.

Write a lot of letters before the test and get them corrected by a trainer. I hope this post will be useful for you in your OET preparation.

One thought on “How to select the relevant case notes for OET letter writing? The audience awareness is the key”

  1. Amazing information on OET letter writing. I like this blog. These tips are valuable & helpful. OET test includes four subtests, each verifying different linguistic abilities related to the healthcare field. The writing subtest will obviously test writing skills, being specific for each professional like medicine, physiotherapy, nursing, etc. Most commonly we required to write a referral letter, following the task instruction & using the given case notes. I have gathered a number of useful OET referral writing tips which I have used in my OET writing module.

    -> Use the reading time accordingly
    -> Organize the case notes in a structured manner
    -> Include at least one of the following points or both for a positive impact

    main medical issue(diagnosis/surgery)
    Request/purpose inn the introduction sentence

    -> Distinguish between main & secondary issues
    -> understand the task & check out samples
    -> Write a separate paragraph for any other details
    -> Referral explicitly described in the last paragraph
    -> Your letter should tell a story to the reader.

    Learn more ->

    If you’re tired of studying case notes and sample letters endlessly and seeing no improvement, look no further! Online OET proofreading service pinpoints exactly where in the writing sub-test YOU need improvement. You can join an experienced language training school for online classes.

Leave a Reply to John Smith Cancel reply